12/28/2007 12:00AM

Losses of farms, stallions dampen 2007

EmailThe year 2007, as it relates to Florida’s breeding industry, is not going down as a vintage one. Cloverleaf II, Padua Stables, and Sequel Stallions – three of the state’s leading stallion stations and nurseries – shut down. Exchange Rate, vying for the state’s leading sire title, moved up the pike to Kentucky, as did Adena Springs South’s promising freshman stallion Macho Uno.

One sign of the times is that there were 12 stallions with stud fees of $10,000 or more serving the 2007 breeding season in Florida. Four of these stallions – Closing Argument, Exchange Rate, Macho Uno, and Too Much Bling – have relocated out of state. For 2008 there are nine stallions listed with fees of $10,000 or more in Florida. These nine include the veteran Alphabet Soup, moving down from Adena Springs in Kentucky to Adena Springs South, and the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Wilko, who enters stud at Adena Springs South.

Another 2007 disappointment for the industry was the shortage of anticipated revenue from the introduction of slots at Gulfstream. Built into the enabling legislation was a percentage of the revenue earmarked for breeders’ and stallion awards. The bonanzas that slots have produced in West Virginia, Delaware, and now Pennsylvania have not occurred as yet in Florida.

Deaths of Florida notables include Max Hugel, former deputy director of the CIA, chairman of the board of Rockingham Park, and owner of Field of Dreams Farm. John McKinnon, owner of Smart Deb Farm, passed on, as did Tony Barnard, onetime training manager for Tartan Stables and the man who trained and prepared the South African champion Horse Chestnut for his successful American debut. Bill Condren also died. He usually is associated with the New York breeding industry, but he was a big-time investor in the young racehorses produced by the Sherman family’s Farnsworth Farms. The multiple graded stakes winner and successful sire Suave Prospect was one of Condren’s joint investments with Mike Sherman.

Teddy Tamer, a longtime clocker for Daily Racing Form – he was the clocker who posted the first official workout for Secretariat – died this past year. Frank Gomez, long associated with Tartan Stables in its heyday and the all-time leading trainer at Calder Race Course, died as well.

Bill Murphy of Ocala’s Elangani Farm said of Gomez: “The game has lost a true gentleman. He brought a sense of dignity to racing. As one of his clients, I know I speak for others when I say he was not only a first-class horseman, he had incomparable integrity as well. Frank never shied from telling an owner that a certain horse may have pedigree and he may have outstanding conformation, but his feet were slow, and it was time to go. You had to respect a man like that.”

There are some industry bright spots. Darley’s Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum has offered to fund a partial sponsorship of the Ocala Breeders’ Sales racing festival, scheduled in 2008 for Feb. 11. Sheikh Mohammed is augmenting the prize money and contributing Darley stallion seasons in conjunction with the four OBS races. The route race for 3-year-old males will have its purse boosted from $100,000 to $150,000 and the 3-year-old sprint race will have its purse boosted from $50,000 to $75,000. The 3-year-old fillies will race for the same purses as last year – $100,000 for routers, $50,000 for sprinters. The winner of the route race gets a 2008 or 2009 season to the Darley stallion Henny Hughes, and the sprint winner to the Darley stallion Rockport Harbor. Darley will contribute a season to its stallion Kafwain to the winner of the Florida Charities Stakes that day. The races are for horses who passed through the ring of an OBS sale.

Ocala Stud headed for title

Ocala Stud has a lock on the top of Florida’s stallion list. The farm’s Trippi leads in progeny earnings for the year, beating its perennial contender Montbrook, who is second, by more than $1 million. Trippi has had 142 starters and 84 winners, and 10 of these are stakes winners. The End Sweep stallion has progeny earnings of $4.4 million.

Montbrook has had 161 starters, 93 winners, and progeny earnings of $3.4 million.

Seeking third place in Florida’s stallion competition are Double Honor (Gateway Farm), Concerto (Ocala Stud), Put It Back (Bridlewood Farm), and Halo’s Image (Bridlewood Farm).

The first-crop leading sire in the money-won category is D’Wildcat (by Forest Wildcat), standing at the Vinery. He has 7 winners from 24 starters, including two stakes winners who won five stakes between them. D’Wildcat’s get have won $850,000.

Repent (Louis Quatorze), with 41 starters, 17 winners, and 2 stakes winners, will finish second, about $150,000 behind D’Wildcat. Vying for third position are Trust N Luck at the Vinery, Full Mandate at Hartley DeRenzo Thoroughbreds, and Drewman at Ocala Stud.